What’s A Good CTR In Google Search Console? A Case Study
I use Google Search Console for many things. One of them is simply to track the progress and success of my articles in organic search.
After 2 years of observing my own websites and studying the data of websites that are for sale in online marketplaces, I’ve come to this conclusion:
As a general rule, a good click through rate in Google Search console is about 3% to 4%.
One out of my three sites hits this range, and I think about 1 in 4 sites I’ve seen for sale fall inside or above this range.
Sharing CTR For My Sites
I currently own three websites and of course I have Google Search Console (GSC) set up on all three. I follow the GSC numbers pretty closely, checking them 2-3 times a week for each site.
Here’s a breakdown of each site with some relevant information:
Site #1 – 3.7% Average CTR over the last 12 months
I’ve attempted to build websites a few times at various points in my life, but this site is the first one I took very seriously and stuck with. I’ve written every article for this site myself, did all the keyword research, wrote all the titles, everything.
As I’m writing this article, this site is about 2 years old and has between 100 and 150 articles published. Most of the articles are between 6 months and 18 months old.
The larger niche is finance related and is very competitive, but I managed to find a few segments of the niche with lower competition.
Site #2 – 1.3% Average CTR over the last 12 months
I bought this site about 5 months ago. At the time I bought it there were 200 articles published and it was about 1 year old.
The 200 articles that were already published were what I would consider below average articles. They appeared to be written by non-native English speakers and there were a lot of duds (articles getting < 10 views per month). In the time since buying I’ve re-written (or heavily edited) around 10 of the articles that were getting decent traffic.
5 months later there are a little over 250 articles published. Of those 50-60 new articles, I wrote less than 5 of them and paid freelance writers to do the rest.
I did all the keyword research for the new articles.
Site #3 – 2.6% Average CTR over the last 6 months
This is a relatively new site, with the first article being published about 6 months ago. I started it from scratch, wrote 10 articles or so before hiring a couple writers to contribute. The idea was that I would apply all the lessons I learned from site #1 and try to get better results faster.
Today the site has between 60-80 articles published. I wrote about half and the other half were written by freelance writers.
Of course, this site hasn’t been around long enough to reach an equilibrium with its click through rate, but it’s a great measure of the early stages of articles and sites.
How CTR Seems To Trend Over Time
The average click through rate for my sites isn’t perfectly consistent. Obviously, it can change drastically from one day to the next. But it can change a decent amount from one month to the next as well.
I’ve made some observations as I have kept tabs on my sites’ CTR over time in Google Search Console. First, this is what I’ve observed on an article to article basis:
- The article starts with near 0% CTR when it is first indexed. The article appears very deep in the search results.
- As the article creeps up in the rankings, the CTR also creeps up slowly
- The article will reach a peak CTR as it reaches a peak ranking (usually 6-12 months after publishing, but sometimes as late as 18 months after publishing, probably even later in some cases)
- The CTR for the article decreases again as it begins to appear for new searches that are related to the primary search term
- CTR may increase slightly again if it performs well for some of the new searches
- The CTR reaches an equilibrium which is lower than the peak (from #3) but usually not much lower
And that’s how I’ve observed the change in Google Search Console click through rate over time for individual articles.
My overall site CTR has followed similar trends, but there haven’t been as many ups and downs.
- The site CTR in Google Search Console starts at or near 0% when articles first get indexed
- The CTR goes up slowly over the first 6 months or so
- After 6 months the CTR doesn’t deviate significantly, it may rise and fall some, but not by any significant amount
This has been the trend for all 3 of my sites as far as I can tell.
Now keep in mind that I bought site #2 after it was around 1 year old, so I don’t have CTR data in Google Search Console for that first year it was online.
And site #3 is only 6 months old, so I don’t have CTR data that is older than that for the site.
So What Is A Good Average CTR in Google Search Console?
Well this is not an easy question to answer. Most articles you’ll find on the topic want to quote a study about CTR based on search ranking positions. They quote a study done by Backlinko that states the CTR of the first page results in Google are about 30% for position #1, 25% for position #2, 20% for position #3 and so on.
But this doesn’t really address the question of Average CTR in Google Search Console.
Here’s my opinion:
An Average CTR of 4-5% is great for small sites, 3-4% is good, 2-3% is average, and less than 2% is below average.
Any Average CTR above 5% is truly exceptional as far as I’m concerned.
I’m coming to this conclusion based on a couple data points.
- My personal GSC data for my 3 sites
- GSC data that is shared by sites that are for sale
One of the places where I’ve been able to find lots of Google Search Console summaries for real sites is the Flipping Websites Facebook group. It is a private group, but I was accepted with just a short message saying I was a blogger interested in buying a website.
You can also sometimes find Google Search Console data on sites that are for sale in online marketplaces like Flippa, Empire Flippers and Motion Invest.
I regularly browse these various online marketplaces and take mental note of the Google Search Console data whenever it’s available.
Experiments To Increase Click Through Rate
I know some people have run in depth experiments with CTR and have some great insights. I haven’t done anything like that, but I have run one experiment (which was ultimately a failure) on site #2 to try and increase CTR.
The reality is that there are only a few factors that influence CTR:
- Your articles’ positions in the search results
- The titles of your articles
- Your brand and how much searchers trust your site
- The article descriptions that show up in the search results
That’s pretty much it.
The actual content in your article doesn’t directly play a role in CTR (except to affect your search ranking). So to improve CTR you either have to make changes to your content and hope that your article moves up the rankings, or you have to experiment with page titles.
My (failed) page title experiment
After I bought site #2 and got Google Search Console set up for it. I began to see that the click through rate was significantly lower than my other site (site #1). I’d seen plenty of sites for sale with similar CTR, but I felt that any site should be able to hit 2% (and I still do believe this).
So I decided to go through all 200 articles that were already published on the site and update the page titles, unless that particular page was already performing exceptionally well.
It took me I think 4-6 hours to get through them all and I felt like I had made some pretty major improvements to 80% of the titles on the site.
But as time passed, my CTR stayed the same.
I honestly don’t know why there was no change. Perhaps it’s because the articles I updated were overall very low in the search results and so they weren’t in enough search results to make a difference. Or perhaps my new titles weren’t as great as I thought.
Either way, I still believe the easiest way to increase CTR is to experiment with page titles. So maybe someone would be willing to share a story in the comments where updating page titles worked…
Based on my personal experience and my constant surveillance of websites that are for sale, I believe a good click through rate in Google Search Console is between 3-5%.
This means that your content is good enough to rank on page 1 pretty often, and your page titles are good enough to get clicks regularly.